Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high-temperature waste treatment systems are described as “thermal treatment”. Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas, and heat. The flue gases must be cleaned of gaseous and particulate pollutants before they are dispersed into the atmosphere. The heat generated by incineration can be used to generate electric power.

Incinerators reduce the solid mass of the original waste by 80–85% and the volume by 95–96%, depending on composition and degree of recovery of materials such as metals from the ash for recycling.

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